E-commerce for Small Biz

online storefront

As a marketing agency, we’re seeing today’s shoppers go digital like never before. Now, businesses of all sizes – including small shops that have traditionally been brick-and-mortar – are beginning to build online storefronts.

Easier said than done! Building an online storefront and marketing it can be intimidating, especially if you’re a small business and this is your first time diving into e-commerce. Where do you begin? What are the fundamentals of a good e-commerce experience? And once your online store is built… what next?

At MACLYN, we help small businesses build and market their online stores all the time, and we’ve learned plenty of lessons along the way.

Here are a few tips to help you rock e-commerce.

Tip #1: You don’t have to build your online store from scratch.


The first thing you should know about your online storefront is that you don’t have to build it from scratch. In fact, you shouldn’t! There are many great online storefront platforms that can seamlessly integrate into your website and be customized to your brand.

One industry leader in online business – our personal favorite – is Shopify. Shopify has packages that range from basic online storefronts to advanced features that scale to your business. As an all-in-one commerce platform, Shopify allows businesses to create online storefronts, sell products online or in-person, market products through digital integrations, and manage your inventory and shipping. It’s relatively easy to use. And, most importantly, it works.

Tip #2: Start by putting a limited inventory online.

If you’re an existing retailer with a large variety of inventory, and you’re just getting started in e-commerce, consider selling a limited number of products online to start.

Of course, you want to offer what people are looking to buy online, but that doesn’t mean you have to put your entire inventory online. You’ll save time and money by starting small and building from there.

Tip #3: Don’t just fill orders—create an order fulfillment strategy.

A LOT of things happen between the time a customer clicks ‘buy’ on you online store and when they actually receive their product. There’s the receiving, the processing, the packing, the picking, and the shipping. All these elements add up to Order Fulfillment.

By creating an Order Fulfillment Strategy – an outline of the process from purchase to shipping – you can tweak your formula to find new efficiencies, stay competitive and build customer loyalty.

order fulfillment

 

Tip #4: How to set up your online store

Depending on how you build your online store – using Shopify or something similar –you will need to design and setup your storefront. This includes selecting a template, inserting your own custom branding, adding your inventory and more.

When you are setting up the store, it’s important to design it with user experience in mind. If you have a lot of products, think about how people will navigate the site and how they search for products.

You also need to add your inventory, including images and descriptions of what you are selling. For product images, you can use professional photography, vendor-supplied images, or take your own. In today’s world, you can find high-quality photo lights, or kits (like this) that will help enhance the quality.

You also need to set up your merchant services to process payment, add the online store to your website, and integrate your POS and inventory management system (if applicable).

Tip #5: Marketing online

Now that you’re built your online store, it’s time to market it! There are a variety of ways to market, and platforms like Shopify give you great tools to do this.

When marketing your online store, consider:

  • Google search campaigns for keywords related to your product.
  • Social media ad campaigns targeted to specific audiences.
  • Optimizing your product descriptions and online storefront for SEO, making it easy for people to find you when they are searching.
  • Utilizing automated tools in Shopify to run remarketing campaigns targeted based on what products consumers were searching, abandoned shopping cart email reminders, and more.


When all the pieces come together

There’s no one element that makes online marketing successful—it’s all about how the pieces fit together to build a seamless customer experience. That’s how you build loyalty, and that’s how you keep your customers coming back again and again.

Here’s an example of what happens when all the pieces come together:

  1. A customer sees an engaging ad and clicks it.
  2. They navigate your website easily – because of its stellar UX – and find just what they want.
  3. They easily make their purchase.
  4. They’re delivered the right product, on time, within their expectations.
  5. Your customer sees another engaging ad. Since they were so happy with their experience last time, they click it and buy another product.

Pro tip: If you can’t deliver on it, don’t do it. A bad customer experience is worse than no experience at all.


Want a guide for the new normal?

We know this is tough, but we can help. As your total marketing partner, MACLYN helps you tackle the challenges you face in the new normal, like getting into e-commerce for the first time. We bring together marketing expertise, business sense and a deep understanding of technology to help your business meet its goals.

Want to learn more? Schedule a free consultation with MACLYN today.

It’s Time to Outsource Your Marketing

In this post, we’re spotlighting Outsourced Marketing by MACLYN, a new service that’s perfect for small businesses and larger organizations navigating the new normal.

 

 

In the new normal, you walk a tightrope.

On the one hand, you’re trying to cut costs. On the other, your audience is going digital. They’re demanding innovations to the customer experience – like online storefronts and other digital amenities – and that means you need new capabilities, like web development, SEO, content creation and social media management.

Today, you need a wider variety of skills and technologies, just to keep up. But bringing those resources in-house is prohibitively expensive. And finding the right vendors is tough.

It’s a tricky balancing act, but we can help.

 

This is Outsourced Marketing by MACLYN

At MACLYN, we’re seeing business leaders – whether they’re the owners of a small business or the CMO of a marketing department – struggle to strike the balance between efficiency and capability that the New Normal demands.

So, we put our heads together and created a new(-ish) service:

Outsourced Marketing by MACLYN

 

What is Outsourced Marketing?

Outsourced Marketing means that you get all the marketing services you need, all from one point of contact, at a fraction of the cost of doing it in-house.

That means: no expensive new in-house employees. No confusing network of third-party vendors. No headaches. No confusion. No wasted resources. No BS.

Just the expertise and capabilities you need—in one package.

(To be honest, Outsourced Marketing is what we’ve been doing all along. We’ve always provided our clients with a custom, flexible set of marketing services that meets their business needs. But now, as the world of marketing and business evolves, we’re tweaking the way we present our approach.)

 

Full Service or A La Carte

Our Outsourced Marketing service is scaled to your needs.

You can get the full package, where we perform all the duties of an in-house marketing department and more. We handle everything: from managing your online presence and executing creative projects, to creating your marketing budget and negotiating media buys. We can even assign a dedicated MACLYN Account Executive who acts as your de facto CMO.

Or, you can select a la carte from our comprehensive range of services. Round out your marketing department with capabilities like web development, SEO, content creation and more.

Whatever your needs, we’ll help you select the right set of services.

 

Outsourced Services

MACLYN’s Outsourced Marketing services are available as a full package or a la carte. Here are some of the services we offer:

  • Outsourced CMO (A MACLYN Account Executive acts as your de facto CMO, negotiating media buys, coordinating all marketing efforts, and helping tailor your marketing budget for maximum efficiency.)
  • SEO & SEM
  • Social Media Management
  • Web development (including online storefronts and apps)
  • Content Creation (including video)
  • PR
  • Branding
  • Planning & executing creative campaigns
  • And more

 

Recap

You can cut costs and gain critical capabilities – like Web Development and SEO – by outsourcing your marketing services with MACLYN. We handle everything, from media buys to creative execution, at a fraction of the cost of an in-house team. Plus, you avoid the headaches of coordinating with a smorgasbord of vendors. MACLYN is your single point-of-contact.

As your full-service marketing partner, we bring you more value, more talent, more capabilities, and more flexibility than any in-house marketing department could provide.

We bring you more for less. Because that’s what your business needs right now.

 

Want to learn more about Outsourced Marketing? Let’s get in touch.

 

How Public Relations Plays a Role in Everyday Life

Often, public relations feels like this nebulous concept that brands have difficulty pinpointing. What is it? How can I measure its value? Why should I bother?

At its core, public relations is the art of influence. It’s about understanding the key goals and interests of your audience and communicating your message effectively, all in an effort to persuade them to attend your event, agree with your idea, or purchase your product. Essentially: It’s word-of-mouth marketing at its finest.

And it’s everywhere around us, whether we know it (or like it) or not.

From justifying salaries of high-profile athletes to political spin on the debate stage to figuring out where your group of friends should meet this weekend, the power of persuasion surrounds us on television, social media, and in our circle of friends and family. It permeates our conscious in all interactions, both professional and personal, directly and indirectly. You may be using it every day without realizing it.

Remember that friend who needed an interactive restaurant recommendation, so you told her this amazing story about your birthday brunch last year? Or that weird performance art bubble festival you shared on Facebook for college friends that would love it?

That’s everyday PR.

This art inciting action strikes a delicate balance of connected storytelling and the intangible value of trust. It’s a prized skill to hone for your communication arsenal.

Here are some key PR pillars for everyday communicators:

Clear Messaging and Appropriate Delivery.

Speak about what you know in a way that your audience can easily and quickly digest the information.

Craft an articulate message, grounded in your own, authentic voice. Consider if your audience prefers a phone call, text, or email. Do they speak in short bursts or long-form conversation?
Tailor the message to fit their needs but keep it in your voice, with a clear, concise, and direct call-to-action.

When communicating in person, be mindful of pacing, the use of filler words, and body language. Be confident.

Pro-Tip: Practice in front of the mirror! Strive to maintain eye contact with yourself a majority of the time. Get comfortable enough that you do not rely on your notes.

Timing is Everything.

Would you announce an engagement at a funeral? Absolutely not. Strategically choose a window to deliver your message, taking into account the environment around you. To keep your message from getting buried in the noise, assess factors like holidays, major life events, and breaking news that affects your audience. On the flip side, a factor like these may catapult your message to the forefront – be ready to hustle with your story at a moment’s notice.

Take Negativity in Stride.

Crisis communication is bound to happen. How you handle it will speak volumes to your audience and solidify or shatter their trust in an instant. Be truthful and empathetic, never defensive (even when you’re literally playing defense). Avoid passing blame and own up to mistakes when you can. When in doubt, sometimes the best response is no response at all.

Written by: Abbey Bobzin, Media Relations Account Executive

Co-working Through COVID-19: How to Make It Work

Here’s some fun and hopeful tips and tricks the #EnemyOfAverage has found helpful the past week. For though we’re apart, we still work right alongside one another.

– Remember that you are not alone. Though there’s a social distance, there is no distance or divide between us. And though we’re apart in our separate quarantines, we were never more together.

– Routine can be your best friend. Break your day into blocks to stay on task and keep your internal momentum going. Not only is it a source of structure and productivity: it’s a source of relief. For instance, at MACLYN, we’ve begun every morning with a virtual status meeting at 8:30 sharp: everyone checks in via webcam, wearing increasingly funny hats and outfits, and showing off their many cute pets.

 


– As good as a set schedule can be, it’s also helpful to embrace the change and roll with the punches. As we work to serve our clients, everyone’s been encouraged to chat and check in on one another through Zoom or Teams: this change of pace has actually shaken up our process and stimulated a whole wave of creativity. These impromptu virtual brainstorms have already been the genesis of many ideas we’re ecstatic to show our clients.

– We all know the CDC 20 second handwashing protocol, but Happy Birthday gets old real fast. Instead, sing the chorus of any of the following: “Mr. Brightside”, “Love On Top”, “Raspberry Beret”, “Truth Hurts”, “Landslide”, “Stayin’ Alive”, “My Sharona”, “This Land Is Your Land”, and of course, “Africa” by Toto.

 

 

– Before you stop for scheduled handwashing/jam sessions, periodically stop and do some pushups, planks, sit-ups, or stretches to clear mental cobwebs and supercharge your self-esteem. (Hemsworth brother bod, here we come!)

– Remember all those things you always said you’d do if you had unlimited time? Don’t worry, the crisis has totally called us out, too. You’ll find unexpected new hobbies instead.

– Begin training a raccoon. Name him Bandit.

 

 

– Portion out your snacks so that you don’t take more than you need: your fellow workers (and your waistline) will thank you. Save some for Bandit – hint, he loves peanut butter.

– Keep a journal of gratitude. As overwhelming as the world can feel on any given day – especially now – things are never as bleak as they seem.

– We’ll all be fighting cabin fever, so we can ward off the worry together. Keep in touch with friends and acquaintances alike. Share threads where people can add new music, photos of places you want to go after the crisis is over, books to read, TV shows to watch, comic books to tear through – there’s so much joy and hope to be had!

 

– 

 

– In the darkest times, we turn to art and entertainment. If you have the means, consider donating to artists or affiliate organizations, the ones hurting right now, who all made that hope possible.

– Also be sure to support local restaurants and businesses, hit equally hard. We always strive to create communities, but there’s been one around us all along.

– If you’ve kept up with the training regiment, by now Bandit should be able to do flips. Give him pets. He has done well. You are proud.

– The weather’s wonky, but that doesn’t mean you don’t deserve fresh air. Go for a quick stroll or jog, as long as you keep your distance from others. A walk in the morning can even simulate a commute and help you start your day! And while you work, leave your window open.

 

 

– You wake in the middle of the night hearing strange noises. Hrm, you left the window open. Who told you to do that? You’re shocked: a gaze of raccoons (yes, that’s the collective name for a group of raccoons, fight us) is raiding your kitchen. With the flick of the light switch they scream and scurry away, loudly hissing and scratching your new hardwood floors. Bandit sits frozen on the spot, friendship bracelet around his paw. Your heart breaks at his sudden but inevitable betrayal. “Bandit!” you sob. “How could you!” Your furry frenemy is transfixed, torn between his duty to his gaze, and his affection for you. He utters a single chitter that you swear means “I will always love you”, and backflips out the window. You’re left to pick up the crumbs.

– Vacuum your rug.

 

 

What have you found helpful as you work through these wild times? Leave us a comment! If ever there was a time we were truly all in this together, now is that time. We don’t dive into despair. We defy the doom. And we stand together until we can stand side by side once more. When the chips are down, humanity shows its true face. It’s your face. And we hope it’s able to wear a smile soon.

Cheers,
The #EnemyOfAverage

Marketing Across the Generations

target markets by generation

Written by: Courtney Healy, Strategy Director

As an ad agency, one of the first questions we ask our clients is, “who is your target market?” And usually the response is something along the lines of— “well everyone, really.”

‘Everyone’ is not a target market. Without a detailed understanding of your target markets, you could be losing business and missing out on opportunities.

While target markets are not equal to demographics, when thinking of your target market, demographics tend to top the list of defining characteristics. Age and generation can offer a lot of insight into people’s attitudes, outlooks and experiences.

Generational cohorts provide a way to understand how different experiences interact with the lifecycle and aging process to shape people’s views of the world.

There are three primary factors that influence a generation: age, societal norms and technology. Having a deep understanding of each generation helps marketers reach and influence their target markets.

GENERATION X

Ages 40-55

Generation X is often referred to as the ‘neglected middle child,’ ‘latch key kids,’ or even the ‘overlooked generation.’

Although the smallest generation, they have enormous buying power. They are reaching the peak in their careers and carry tremendous influence over other generations. Their parents are over the age of 65 and likely relying in some way on their latch-key kids to make decisions. Gen Xers are also raising Generation Z.

Generation X came up in an era of…

Two-income families and rising divorce rates.
This has made them independent, resourceful and self-sufficient.

A faltering economy.
Many Gen Xers lived through tough economic times in the 1980s—seeing their workaholic parents lose their hard-earned positions. This has made Gen Xers less loyal to employers, and more willing to change jobs in order to get ahead.

Fact: there are more entrepreneurs in Generation X than any other generation.

Technology revolution.
Generation X and the older millennials (born before 1985) are deemed “the lucky ones.” They were young enough to eagerly embrace things like home computers but were a youth untouched by social media.

They were the first children to grow up figuring it out, as opposed to having an innate understanding of new technology the way younger generations do.

This has made Generation X ambitious and eager to learn new skills. They often switch between laptops, phones and tablets, as opposed to Millennials that primarily use their phone.

Marketing to Generation X

These experiences have made Generation X shrewd, value-driven shoppers. They research far and wide before making a purchase and seek the best deal. They tend to be cynical and sophisticated when it comes to products, ads and shopping, and they demand reliability.

Best practices for marketing to Generation X

  • Use subtle persuasion
  • Educate them into buying
  • Be straightforward and credible
  • Provide a personalized brand experience

Key messages that resonate with Generation X

  • Family
  • Health
  • ‘Playing it safe’
  • Value

MILLENNIALS

Ages 25-39

Known as generation “me,” Millennials are the most studied and talked about generation. They are larger and more diverse than previous generations. And they are diverse in more ways than one – they have a wide spectrum of tastes, behaviors and income levels.

Millennials are highly educated. And, they are a very lucrative market – with over $200 billion (and growing) in spending power.

Millennials came up in an era of…

Digital Technology.
Millennials grew up during the rapid rise of the internet, mobile devices and social media and adapted as new technology emerged. They are technologically savvy—millennials do everything tech-related in higher percentages than all other generations before them. They also see the value of technology as a means to improve their lives.

This has led to Millennials being constantly connected, having short attention spans and wanting everything (especially information) on-demand.

9/11.
Millennials were between the ages of 6 and 20 when the 9/11 terrorist attacks took place. 9/11 and its complicated aftermath represent a loss of innocence that dimmed their world view but demonstrated the importance of community.

The period of intense unity in the aftermath of 9/11 reinforced their importance of community and family “on a subliminal level” and instilled a sense of social responsibility.

The great recession and skyrocketing student loan debt.
The great recession represented a sharp decline in economic activity in America from 2007-2009. This was a time when many millennials were trying to enter the workforce. High unemployment rates and crippling student loan debt created the infamous trait this generation is known best for: failure to launch.

Millennials put off life milestones simply because they couldn’t afford it. Moving out of their parent’s house, marriage and families. In general, they’ve started their “economic lives” late.

Marketing to Millennials

65% of millennials start interactions with brands online. And they want a seamless shopping experience that melds the online and offline worlds. Millennials would rather have an unforgettable experience than seek out luxury.

Millennials feel empowered by the content they are discovering and like to share that empowerment with others. They appreciate thought leadership and tend to support businesses that make their customers lives’ better by providing this content.

Millennials have an appetite for collaboration and want their voice to be heard. They are influenced by people they know in-person or online, and trust what they feel is authentic.

Fact: 84% of Millennials don’t trust traditional advertising.

Best practices for marketing to Millennials

  • Provide a complete omni-channel experience
  • Use concise, visual language
  • Create opportunities for them to engage
  • Provide an experience

Key messages that resonate with Millennials

  • Comfort and trust
  • Unique experiences
  • Messages and language that sound like them or their peers


GENERATION Z

Ages 10-23

Known as “digital natives” and “the social generation,” Generation Z is recognized as the next consumer powerhouse, representing 27% of the population. A diverse group, Generation Z contradicts the previous generation and defies categorization.

Generation Z came up in an era of…

Social media.
Generation Z are the first generation to grow up “in public” online, i.e., documenting their lives on social media. This has led them to attach great importance to personal appearances. The pressures presented by social media are encouraging Gen Zers to spend on leisure services, such as vacations, dining out and going out. This is what we call “the Instagram effect.”

Generation Z is redefining the way we use social media. The vast majority (80%) of Gen Z uses social media to connect with family and friends, while only 22% use it to share their opinions or influence audiences. Social media is to Generation Z what email, phones or “snail mail” are to other generations.

Fake news.
Generation Z is coming of age in an era of “fake news.” In numerous studies, it’s become evident that these “digital natives” are also “digitally naïve.” Generation Z reports having a difficult time distinguishing between an ad and a news story, reporting that they are confused about what they see online. This has created a generation that believes brands are guilty until proven innocent.

The on-demand economy.
The on-demand economy, ranging from video-on-demand services such as Netflix to dine-on-demand apps such as UberEATS, is making Gen Z the most demanding, least patient generation ever.

Marketing to Generation Z

Ads Generation Z see on social media are more relevant to them than on any other channel. And, it’s important to note that they have a multifaceted approach to social media. Gen Z uses different platforms for different activities. On Instagram, they showcase their aspirational selves; on Snapchat, they share real-life moments; on Twitter, they get the news; and on Facebook, they glean information.

In other words, Gen-Zers fragment and focus their social media time—they share certain types of content on particular social channels. All of this is done in quick touches, or micro-interactions, that might last only a few seconds. They’re also frequent, with some Gen-Zers checking their social media accounts as often as 100 times per day.

Fact: 40% of Generation Z says social media has a direct impact on their happiness.

The impact of social media on Gen Z has no precedent. For generations, health, financial prosperity and relationships have played pivotal roles in one’s personal happiness. However, nearly 40% of Gen Zers says social media has a direct impact on their happiness. In order to effectively connect with Gen Z through social media, brands now have to find a way to “lift up” their Gen Z consumers to make them feel like heroes.

In many ways, Gen Z has grown up in a world they sense is corrupted. They have lived through constant terrorist attacks, a recession and wars. This generation is worried about the future, but it is also ready to take action. Not only does Gen Z expect brands to have an impact, they expect them to show it.

Best practices for marketing to Generation Z

  • Use social media channels appropriately
  • Create micro-interactions
  • Prove the impact
  • Rather than talking at Gen Z, talk with them to find a connection
  • Don’t try too hard, be relatable

Key messages that resonate with Generation Z

  • Customized, snappy and socially meaningful
  • Messages that lift them up
  • Honesty, transparency, authenticity

Social Media Video Trends

Content. Trends. Brand. Engagement. These are not just words that we hear every day in the agency. These are the goals that guide our strategy and creative work. As attention spans continue to shrink, it is more important now than ever before to create content that will have people stop mid-scroll and engage. And what better way to do that, than video?

Here are all the latest video trends that will help you take the social media world by storm in 2020 and beyond.


1) A FULL PERSPECTIVE: 360 VIDEOS ARE ON THR RISE

360 content is a hot trend because it enables viewers to have a more immersive and interactive experience – while having full control over how they take in the content. 360 videos get:

• 41% more earned interactions
• 85% VCR (video completion rate)
• 8x greater content recall
• 28x better brand recall
• 3x higher purchase intent


2) STORIES VS. FEED – THE ETERNAL DILEMMA

Not all content is feed-worthy and not all feed-worthy content is cool enough for your stories. Use this simple checklist to stay on top of social media posting etiquette.

Feed:
• Content should be evergreen, perfect and professionally shot.
• Sound off. Consumers usually don’t view videos on the feed with sound.
• This is your proven playbook, stick to what works for you.

Stories:
• Content is meant to be fleeting, in the moment, and more casual.
• Sound on. Consumers are more likely to be listening when watching stories.
• Have fun experimenting with new ideas.


3) LIVE VIDEO IS ALIVE AND WELL

Live streaming is great because it encourages more audience engagement and retains viewers for longer than prerecorded video.

• 80% of users would rather watch live video than read a blog.
• 82% of users prefer live video from a brand over social posts.
• Live videos are watched 3x longer than pre-recorded videos.


4) THINK MOBILE-FIRST.

Consumers see horizontal video content “as work” since they have to turn their device to view the video. Your video will get almost 40% more impressions for being a vertical video.

• Vertical and square video continuously outperform horizontal video.
• In addition, vertical outperforms square in nearly every aspect.


5) LESS IS MORE

Keep length in mind when generating video content so your video gets the engagement you intended. Length varies from platform to platform:

• Instagram & Twitter see the most success in videos 15-60 seconds long.
• If your video is going to be 90 seconds or longer, it is more ideal for Facebook.


6) THUMBS UP FOR THUMBNAILS

Your thumbnail has a greater impact on users than you may think. Be sure to choose one that grabs users’ attention the moment it comes across their feed. Research shows that thumbnails with people receive a 30% higher play rate than those without.

7) KEEP “ME TIME” IN MIND

The biggest takeaway here is that you are reaching your audience during their “me time.” Don’t try and push your latest promotional content all over the feed. Instead, connect with your audience through storytelling. Next time you are generating video content, put yourself in the shoes of the audience and ask, “is this something I would watch during my ‘me time’?”

Your Company is a Rocket and Your Brand is High-Octane Fuel

The Real-Deal, No-BS Bottom Line of Your Company’s “Big Idea” – and how it’s going to take you to the moon & beyond.

Let’s get this out of the way: The idea that branding is some mystical, hocus-pocus pseudo-science dreamed-up by kale-smoking advertising hippies is just not true. In fact, branding has real value. Real, mathematically proven, ROI-boosting value – whether you’re B2B, B2C, or somewhere in-between. Continue reading